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Brokaw, Russert Talk News, Election and More

Tom Brokaw and Luke Russert. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Oct. 18, 2012

Accomplished journalist and author Tom Brokaw and NBC correspondent Luke Russert ’08 offered their expertise and observations on the 2012 election campaign and other issues on Oct. 9, at a Robsham Theater event held as part of the Chambers Lecture Series by the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics.

Earlier in the day, the two took part in an informal discussion with a small group of students, alumni and guests in the Boston Room of Corcoran Commons. Brokaw and Russert answered questions from the group and gave their insight on a range of topics: impressions from the previous week’s presidential debate; prospects for the vice presidential debate; the advent of social media, notably Twitter, and its impact on journalism; and the qualities that make for a good journalist.

Brokaw, who received an honorary degree from Boston College in 1990, reflected on the different circumstances facing today’s college graduates and those of his generation. Job prospects were better when he and his peers were new grads, he said, and despite the Cold War, the US was in a great economic boom.

“On the other hand,” he added, “what we didn’t have is what you have: We didn’t have nearly as many people going to elite institutions. We didn’t have the technology that makes it possible for you to peruse the world. We didn’t have the health awareness that you do — we all smoked. So there are a lot of seismic shifts that occurred along the way.”

Responding to a request for advice for aspiring journalists, Russert stressed the importance of “knowing how to write” and a well-rounded education — such as the one he received at BC.

“What you see now is a lot of schools training people to be television actors: ‘This is how you look into the camera, this is how you modify your voice, this is how you dress, this is how you look’ — that’s important, but there’s no substance there,” he said. “I know a lot of people who are great on camera, but you take away the teleprompter and there’s not a lot going on.”